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Lamb Killings – Police Brief Farmers – Operation STOCK

Written by on July 17, 2019

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Article Published on Wednesday July 17, 2019 8:30 PM by

- Daventry Area Crime -
Lamb Killings – Police Brief Farmers – Operation STOCK

Daventry Area Crime -

Feelings were running high today as over 170 farmers met with police, farmer’s union and other local officials at Lodge Farm in Thornby. The emergency meeting was called in response to the alarming recent trend in the stealing and slaughter of lambs at local farms.

In recent weeks, scores of lamb remains have been found butchered on farm land in the Daventry area and although police had reported killings in Crick (10), Whilton (21), Kelmarsh (16) and most recently, Clipston (9), several farmers interrupted the police briefing to complain that they too had been victims of the butchering trend and had felt that their complaints had fallen on deaf ears or that police just hadn’t attended.

Daventry Team Sgt Sam Dobbs led the briefing and fielded some pretty difficult questions with regard to varying police responses to farmers, some of whom thought they had been ignored. Sgt Dobbs and PC Hutchings from the Rural Policing Team did their best to reassure those present that a coordinated response was in place and that senior officers starting with Chief Constable Nick Adderley as well as the Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold were all taking a personal interest and asking for advice on the best way forward.

Incident signs were shown to the audience and when Sgt Dobbs asked for a show of hands from volunteers who would be willing to join in night-time patrols, over 100 hands went up. This led to questions about vigilantism and Sgt Dobbs also raised the question of firearms – as most farmers legally own firearms – and he stressed that under no circumstances should farmers be going out as ‘armed patrols’.

One of the positive outcomes of the investigation has been the establishment of a formal police operation – OPERATION STOCK – and anyone suspecting that a crime is being committed in relation to these killings is urged NOT to dial 101 but to dial 999 and say that a crime is in progress as part of Operation Stock. The call will be prioritised and details taken to allow a police response to be deployed.

Sgt Dobbs also offered the loan of remotely triggered wildlife cameras to farmers, who could use them in ways which the police cannot as they are restricted by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

Questions from the floor about a potential police response being unable to find the exact location of an incident in rural areas led to a suggestion by PC ‘Hutch’ Hutchings that the phone app “WHAT 3 WORDS” could be used by callers and the police control room as this would assign three words to a 3-metre square anywhere in the country. As he was speaking, dozens of farmers could be seen busily downloading the app onto their phones. PC Hutchings also spoke about the importance of ‘target-hardening’  at farm access points and reducing access to fields. 

Although there are no suspect details at the moment the police are working on a theory that the vehicle being used is a 4-wheel off-road vehicle but not larger than a two-wheel back axle and with a high ground clearance.

Audience members tried to draw the Sgt Dobbs on the possibility that the suspects might be travellers or eastern-Europeans but he said that although that “Can’t be discounted”, there was no direct intelligence to support that and that there is a risk that narrowing the field of suspicion might hamper the enquiry rather than help it.

A cross-border meeting will be held on July 18th with neighbouring forces. Warwickshire Police already have OPERATION HILLMAN up and running and a wider and more coordinated approach is expected very soon.

Daventry Radio asked the panel if this was a new trend or if the figures for sheep and lamb ‘losses’ matched previous years figures where livestock was stolen and presumably butchered elsewhere. Harriet Ranson from the National Farmers Union answered that this is still being analysed but that her information is that this is definitely a spike in ‘losses’. It appears that by killing and butchering the lambs at the scene, thieves are able to increase their profits and do so undetected.

Image copyright: Steve Edwards

Listen to our recording of the meeting

Audio recording of the meeting held at Lodge Farm, Thornby on Wednesday 17th July 2019.

Organised by Northamptonshire Police and the NFU, attended by approximately 150 Farmers.


  1. Meeting was held in a Grain Store and the audio reflects this (even after post-production).
  2. This is a full, original audio.

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